How Lord of the Rings is like a deployment.
Admittedly the past week or so has been rough for me. Generally, I think I am doing pretty darned good job of dealing with this deployment, staying positive, going on with life and doing my best to thrive in this new situation. But lately I’m feeling kind of like I’m just going through the motions, like I am on auto-pilot. I suspect it has much to do with the month of nonexistent phone service and not being able to hear Swiss’s voice. I suspect it also has something to do with feeling like we’ve only just reached Rivendell in our epic journey to Mordor… in other words we haven’t even finished the first movie. Yes, I just referenced the Lord of the Rings trilogy and compared it to this deployment. I think it is oddly fitting. The Precious? Totally the end of this deployment. I loves the Precious. Must have the Precious! But I digress…
I think it also has something to do with being here in the civilian world and being so far removed from ‘military life’… but I know from other friend’s experiences this is just as likely to happen on a military post. See, it is starting to feel like Swiss and this deployment has been forgotten by all but a few. No one asks. No one talks about it. We talk about everything else, but somehow this deployment and how we are doing seems to be verboten. Perhaps they are afraid to talk about it. Maybe they think I might have a meltdown if it gets brought up (I won’t… I haven’t had anything even resembling a melt-down yet, well, at least not in public!). Maybe they don’t know what to say, so they don’t say anything at all. It could even be that they think I am doing perfectly fine (the curse of strong, independent women everywhere) and don’t need anything. I’m not sure what it is, I just know that I’ve just been feeling sort of invisible lately.
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I am terrible at asking for the kind of ‘help’ that would go so far in making things easier. I don’t want a pity party and I don’t need help-help. I just need someone to ask “How are you doing?” or say “Let’s go get dinner some night!”. I have a fear of seeming weak because I feel like I should be able to do this all on my own, but this hasn’t exactly been what I would call easy. And I have a huge aversion to actually saying “I’m having a crap time right now, can you ask me out to dinner or drinks or come over to just hang out?”.
I know these feelings will pass… I will put my Big Girl Britches on and things will be fine again. I will keep on trucking to Mordor and focus on getting to the Precious. HOWEVER, in the spirit of choosing the right vowel (i.e.: bEtter, not bItter) here is some advice and wisdom that other MilSpouses have given me, hopefully this will help all of you too when the middle of a deployment leaves you feeling like a twee little Hobbit lost in Middle Earth with no Fellowship to get you through (okay, okay, I am done with the LOTR analogies!):
- Don’t wait for others to make the first move. Be the one to ask someone to grab a drink after work or to come over for dinner. Sometimes people want to do the right thing, but don’t know what that is.
- Start asking new people to do things, you can make some great new friends who may understand a little better what it’s like, and how lonely it can be when it’s just you.
- Asking someone to go for drinks or to go to dinner or to come over for dinner is NOT a sign of inability to deal with a deployment and you will NOT be judged that way. If you have single friends, ask them to do stuff. If you have married friends, invite yourself over. Likely they haven’t already done it out of respect for you.
- Try making a “weekly date” with some friends. That way you aren’t asking, it just IS.
(These were all suggestions by Bette, The Army Wife, SnarkyNavyWife and LAW. Thanks to all you Ladies for all your great wisdom and support!)
And here are my suggestions to any of you who do have friends with deployed spouses:
- Just call. Don’t over-think it, just make the call and talk.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. Anything from how are you doing? to What do you need? to How is your spouse? Just ask, it shows that you care and haven’t forgotten.
- Throw out concrete invitations rather than a generic ‘call if you need anything’ (I am totally guilty of this!). A better way to offer support is to be more specific. For example, tell them that you are always free on Saturday mornings to get together for a chat & coffee, or ask them to join you and your family at a movie or event or invite them over for Holidays if their families live far away.
So here’s to Embracing the Suck, choosing the E and making it to Mordor. And a huge Thank You to all of you who have been so supportive and awesome to me in this, ahem, sucky time. (Really, I can’t help it, there is no other way to describe a deployment other than sucky.)